Water in the Headlights

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My Name: C3CAR

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Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 10:01 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 (16v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 140000
Trim Level: Exclusive
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: DV4 16-valve diesel (90 PS)
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I was rather amazed to see the headlight unit looking like a goldfish bowl. Quite how so much water managed to get into the unit required immediate investigation.

The whole headlamp bulb changing operation is fiddly and requires dexterity.

With this in mind, it became obvious that the large plastic cover with rubber seal over the lamp connections was incorrectly fitted, allowing a huge quantity of water to enter the headlamp unit during the wet season.

The large plastic cover has a rubber seal and a metal clip to hold the cover in place. It is possible to engage the clip while the seal is incorrectly seated, or the cover incorrectly fitted. Just because the clip is in place, don't assume that the cover is fitted correctly.
Citroen C3 Headlamp Cover seated correctly and clip attached
Citroen C3 Headlamp Cover seated correctly and clip attached
Citroen C3 Headlamp Cover, Water seal and Clip fitted
Citroen C3 Headlamp Cover, Water seal and Clip fitted
To remove the water:

Remove the electrical connection to the lamp, the lamp itself - careful not to touch the glass.
Remove the indicator lamp and insert several sheets of absorbent kitchen roll tightly wound to form a wick into the holes left by the headlamp bulb and the indicator lamp.

The water is absorbed quickly by the wick and I had to make quite a few rolled up kitchen roll wicks to remove all of the water. As the quantity of water remaining reduces, the wicks get less and less wet. The wicks will come out of the holes dry when all the water has gone.

To be sure the last moisture was gone, I parked the car facing the sun for an hour or so before refitting the parts that I had removed.

Make sure you fit the cover and seal correctly! Its fiddly and requires patience - but when fitted correctly, it works a treat, no misting or water even after years of driving.
Citroen C3 Headlamp Unit Cover and Seal.
Citroen C3 Headlamp Unit Cover and Seal.
Ensure the two lugs are engaged correctly in the headlamp unit. I suggest engaging the lugs first when refitting.
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My Name: C3CAR

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Posts: 2658
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 10:01 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 (16v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 140000
Trim Level: Exclusive
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: DV4 16-valve diesel (90 PS)
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from flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/60369058@N07/
with thanks to m7jgp1

"Picture is of passenger side on a right hand drive car hole on bottom left is for side light just pulls straight out,
to unclip headlight you can undo/Unhitch clip each side of spring at a time pushtorwards front of car the slightly outwards, when both sides of spring is unhitched the spring will hinge down out of the way"
C3 Headlamp clip
C3 Headlamp clip
Citroen C3 Headlamp Clip
Citroen C3 Headlamp Clip
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My Name: C3driver52

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Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (03)
Engine Size: 1.4 i
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 79984
Trim Level: VTR+
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: TU3 (75 PS)
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Water in the headlight
Water in the headlight
Citroen C3 Water in the Headlight
Citroen C3 Water in the Headlight
Example of water in the Citroen C3 Headlamp due to a badly fitted or missing headlamp access cover.
The water can damage the orange colour on the amber indicator bulb giving a weak orange indicator light and possibly an MOT fail. Some thing you can change yourself :)
My Name: dusty240470

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I had the same problem after fitting a new headlight bulb. I thought the cover was on correctly but after water formed I realised it wasn't. I did almos the same thing but used a cloth. I waited for a really hot day and left the cover of the headlight and placed a cloth inside. I them drove round like that for a few days till it all dried out. Then i removed the cloth and replaced the cover. Job done. Just wait for a really dry day to get the last little bit out otherwise everytime it gets hot you will end up with condensation inside the headlight. Looks awful. :D
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My Name: C3CAR

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Posts: 2658
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 10:01 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 (16v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 140000
Trim Level: Exclusive
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: DV4 16-valve diesel (90 PS)
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This is a picture of the motor that controls the headlight levelling inside the headlight of a Citroen C3.
Citroen C3 Headlight Levelling Motor Solenoid damaged by water ingress
Citroen C3 Headlight Levelling Motor Solenoid damaged by water ingress
Its positioning puts the electrical connector low down and potentially below the water level if the headlight has been allowed to fill as in the pictures in the posts above.

It is not possible to replace the motor unit or even clean the contacts because the headlight is a sealed unit and the motor is hidden very well inside.
headlight levelling electrical connection to motor
headlight levelling electrical connection to motor
This is a close up of the connector and shows some green corrosion from the water. This unit has not been tested, so it may or may not still work, but you will need a new C3 headlight unit if it turns out the motor is damaged because the unit is sealed and the parts inside other than the lamps themselves can be replaced.

This is some damage caused by the water in the headlights, the circuit board for the motor controller - located inside the sealed headlamp assembly.
damage caused by water in the headlights on a Citroen C3
damage caused by water in the headlights on a Citroen C3
water damaged headlight levelling electronics inside the headlight, can make a whining noise or just not work
water damaged headlight levelling electronics inside the headlight, can make a whining noise or just not work
The images won't help you fix the problem because the headlight is sealed and takes a fair amount of destruction to get in far enough to get the motor solenoid board out of the unit. You will need a new C3 headlight with motor (click here).

It's easier to fit the H7 Lamps (from here), the H1 Lamps (available here) the side light (available here) and the C3 indicator lamps (from here) before refitting the headlamp assembly to the car :)
My Name: nikroc

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Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (52)
Engine Size: 1.4 (8v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 93000
Trim Level: Touch
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
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I have removed the headlights to try and clean the water out off them. Using a hairdryer has removed the water but left the various water marks/stains.

Question:As the plastic covers/lenses appear to have fixing lugs on them is it possible to remove them without destroying them?...

Question: anyone got a spare headlight cover???
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My Name: C3CAR

Guru
Posts: 2658
Joined: Wed May 04, 2011 10:01 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (02)
Engine Size: 1.4 (16v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 140000
Trim Level: Exclusive
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
LHD or RHD: RHD (UK)
Engine name: DV4 16-valve diesel (90 PS)
Has thanked: 175 times
Been thanked: 93 times

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Question:As the plastic covers/lenses appear to have fixing lugs on them is it possible to remove them without destroying them?...
They are glued all the way around the edge, highly likely you will break them and virtually impossible to seal them back up again afterwards.

You should look for a bargain on eBay (by clicking here) as they do crop up!

Citroen C3 headlight assembly fitting replacement is easier than repair.
Citroen C3 headlight assembly fitting replacement is easier than repair.
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My Name: nikroc

Experienced Member
Posts: 42
Joined: Tue Aug 20, 2013 5:34 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2002 (52)
Engine Size: 1.4 (8v)
Fuel Type: Petrol
Mileage: 93000
Trim Level: Touch
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No
Been thanked: 2 times

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In for a penny....I removed the bulbs and waterproffed the electrics...poured neat bleach and some bioling water into the headlight and let it soak. 5 minutes later(im impatient) I poured it out and ran cold water through it to remove the scum and bubbles. Fifteen minutes with the hairdryer and its dried out smear free and shiney. :D
My Name: tomasa

Top Contributor
Posts: 39
Joined: Sat Aug 31, 2013 9:32 pm
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2003 (03)
Engine Size: 1.4 (8v)
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 120000
Trim Level: VTR+
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: Yes

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I've seen in youtube video about c5 bug of burning down motors of central locking, it looked the same as this in pictures... they buy some cheap russian car's central with motor which is the same, just citroen uses chinese crap and russian cheap cars - Germany.
so i think to fix this we have to get motors, just need to find the proper size...stupid to buy whole unit just for motor which costs 3$

Of course i thin to kill motor is VERY hard and brake not them but some electronic schemes...which should work after cleaning.
My Name: T1Cybernetic

Member
Posts: 4
Joined: Fri Feb 28, 2014 9:09 am
Model: C3 2002-2005, Original shape model
Year: 2005 (05)
Engine Size: 1.4
Fuel Type: Diesel
Mileage: 160000
Trim Level: Desire
Gearbox: Manual 5 speed
DPF: No

Post

Just recently picked up a diesel 05 C3 and have exactly the same problem ;) Surprise surprise the lights look exactly like the ones in the pictures above.

The passenger side adjust motors is not working :( Is it even worth trying to fix the light and motor or simply simply get a new one?

Also on some older car's I've owned I simply drilled a small hole under the light to allow water to get out :D Simple fix but always worked and never misted up afterwords, The only problem with these lights are the motors are situated very low down :(
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